When You Work At a Museum...

I have an irony headache.

When a curator casually announces in a exhibition planning meeting that the lone work by a woman of color is being scratched from the exhibition checklist for lack of name recognition. 

Why showcase a powerful artwork by an unknown living artist from an underrepresented demographic when you can put up another mediocre landscape by a well-known white guy who’s been dead for 100 years? This is actually a question? PUT ON THE KETTLE, KIDS. WE’RE GONNA BE HERE FOR A BIT.

Send in the Summer Camp Lawyers

When parents threaten to sue your museum for expelling their camper, who has physically and verbally attacked multiple staff members and fellow campers.

Then, when you realize they are serious, but have a mountain of incident reports, documentation, and the backing of the legal department that you did everything you could (and more)…

Yes, sir. We’re well aware of the situation.

When a concerned museum guest tells you, “There’s naked women in those paintings upstairs…”


When the Smithsonian Museums start trash-talking each other.

…in the nerdiest, politest possible way.


Apparently the Smithsonian staffers are coping with the misery of living in a humid, tourist-mobbed swamp-pit in August by mocking each other’s collection items on the internet. And some of them have gotten their hands/paws on copies of Photoshop. The results are pretty amusing. This storify has the highlights. 

After a serious twitter conversation with the National Museum of American History and the National Portrait Gallery, WYWAAM is going to #votegeorge because 1) love that Gilbert Stuart painting,  2) GW is #3 on my “I’d Hit That” list, Presidential Category, and 3) this completely NSFW biopic by Brad Neeley. 

When a museum board member asks for a favor…

And the favor is: to have their child be allowed to rollerblade around the museum for a charity scavenger hunt. 

You politely decline to allow it, but in your head it’s more like: 

Deaccessioning to create more collections storage space.

You’re totally making progress. A special kind of progress that is entirely futile, but it’s still progress. 

When an artist featured in your new show calls & says they won’t make it to the opening unless you post their bail.

Because they were arrested for STABBING SOMEONE. 

When a 3rd grade girl asks what the female inmates at your historic prison would do because “some women bleed”

…and you have to quickly come up with an historically responsible and biologically accurate (but age-appropriate) answer while all the other kids and parents are staring at you. 

When your museum orders fancy, high-end, famous designer gallery seating…

…which looks GREAT but is so uncomfortable it’s totally incapable of performing the basic tasks of a seat. 


For the last time, this is a museum. Not Star Trek.

When the design team asks conservation, with a very serious face, to just put all the magnets in the demagnetized acetone so they don’t all get stuck together.